How am I right now? I'm fine. There are some indications of age. My knees are intermittently painful, especially during cold, rainy weather. My hearing is impaired and I started wearing hearing aids some years ago. I never needed glasses until I was in my forties and now I can't do without them. But I'm strong. I can swim laps for an hour without a break. I'm intellectually engaged and writing better than ever. I exercise regularly and eat reasonably. Overall, I'm healthy, active and energetic. And filled with gratitude for my good health.
My cousin Caron has been healthy, active and beautiful all her life. She didn't slow down after retirement, walking every day, studying Hawaiian dancing and delighting in shooting hoops with her grandsons. She has a loving marriage that is a true inspiration and has cultivated wonderful lifelong friendships. She has always cooked and eaten healthy food. Through the years, Caron only had one bad habit: smoking. She finally quit as she neared 70. But the impact of years of tobacco use led to COPD which has made life after 70 difficult for her. She is limited in what she can do, increasingly dependent on Bud, her loving husband of 60 years and is tethered to an oxygen tank 24/7. She shakes her head in frustration when she remembers all of the health-promoting behaviors she had and how her health was destroyed by her one vice. She is an avid anti-smoking activist and is forever reminding me to urge my sister, a lifelong smoker, to quit now before anything bad happens.
So we live with the specter not only of mortality, but also of painful, frustrating physical decline. Many of us who live in gratitude for our health work constantly to safeguard what we still have. We eat healthy meals and focus on getting to and maintaining a healthy weight. We exercise daily and work on building core strength and good balance to avoid falls. We meditate and seek balance in the daily routines of our lives. The overall goal of all these efforts is, quite often, not to pursue the illusion of living to be 120, but to live whatever years that are left to us in reasonably good health
These days it's important to say what we want and need to say to beloved friends and family, to greet each day with gratitude and to do all we can to enhance our own lives and the lives of loved ones, both in good health and in illness.
That said, I'm headed to the gym.